A Government Official in Venture Capitalist's Clothing?

Charles Lindbergh with his monoplane Spirit of St-Louis after becoming the first aviator to fly non-stop from New York to Paris in 1927. (Photo OFF/AFP/Getty Images)

What do the X Prize, Google, and the Department of Education have in common?

Stephen Dubner gives Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal a pop quiz that compares American aviator Charles Lindbergh to the Race to the Top education-reform program, which makes the government seem a bit more like a sleek venture capitalist than its typical bureaucratic self.

The moral of the story? One of the best-known free-market truths: competition leads to innovation — and a huge reward isn’t a bad motivator either.

Listen to see how Kai fares on the quiz and also hear from Arne Duncan, Peter Diamandis, and an engineer who does quite a lot with his free time.

Paul Pinegar

I deeply appreciate the work and thoughtfulness of Abundance. My main, recurring question has to do with regression. By that I mean the human being's inclination to regress in the face of newness. This, to me, is the biggest challenge in bringing the positive themes of Abundance to fruition. After 9/11 we had a wonderful opportunity to see our global interconnectedness; instead we got George Bush, arguably the worst President we have ever had.
Currently, regression is sprouting in the face of the environmental challenges by a resurgence of interest in and exploration of oil, the stalling and polarization politically primarily of the right, and a general unwillingness to lean into the wonderful opportunities so highlighted in Abundance.
In the 1960's we had the Greening of America by Charles Reich, a wonderful manifesto about the coming environmental revolution brought on by our increasingly conscious awareness as a species. It didnt' happen.
Unless this issue is more thoroughly addressed (a good job was done towards the end with the chapter on threats,etc.) I fear this work will go down as another idealistic if well meaning tomb. I don't know if this is the proper forum to address my concerns, but I am searching for ways to continue this rich dialogue in these pressing times. Paul P.